That was a sentence the younger professors in my graduate program reiterated quite often, as a pedagogical remark. They had apparently thought they were “the next Foucault” and discovered this was not the case, and had had a difficult adjustment to a more modest reality. Their point was that we should not imagine we were “the next Foucault,” but set our sights lower.
I thought it strange they had imagined they would be “the next Foucault,” and had apparently based their self-images upon this, but I still learned the lesson: set your sights low, as your work is surely not destined to be nearly as good as you imagine.
My question now is, but what about people whose work is good? I see people all around me who, while perhaps not being “the next Foucault,” have clearly always acted as though their work could have value. What is the point of the finger-shaking, I learned I would not be the next Foucault, and so should you?